A friend recently sent me the book, Thou Shalt Prosper, by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. The author builds a case for business owners (as well as the public) to recognize how much common good is contributed to society by a well-run business. Too many fine business people prefer to talk about their charitable giving and don’t seem to recognize the good that derives naturally from their business endeavors.
I have noticed that it is much easier to persuade business professionals to talk about the good they do outside the office than about the immeasurable good for society they do by running their businesses.
Lapin documents that Hollywood’s default depiction of business in America is negative, which no doubts exacerbates this sense of false guilt on the part of ethical business people. A legitimate, honest business is at least as beneficial to society as the charitable gifts the owners make or the taxes they pay. In other words, when we fail to recognize the contribution that business makes to the economy, we assume the taxes paid by wealthy people are their main contribution, and such thinking is inaccurate and ultimately destructive.
Lapin points out that We must all understand that in a free, transparent and honest marketplace, you cannot make the money in the first place without benefiting other people.
If we start reading the Bible in Genesis 1 (instead of chapter 3) we see that God front loaded the creation with laws that still work today. For example, the mandate given to Adam and Eve to develop the creation extends into 21st century economies. When an imago Dei creature cultivates an idea and builds a business which employs people and provides a needed service or product, all of that is an application of the original mandate. Such action contributes to the good of one’s fellow creatures. The result brings refreshment. It builds toward free, healthy societies. These are all kingdom values, grounded in scripture, that glorify God.
For a full treatment of this important subject, read Darrow’s book, LifeWork.
– Gary Brumbelow